Jigoku Shoujo: Dirty Streets

What could a young, teenage boy from the slums of India want with Jigoku Shoujo?

This is a Case Story fanfiction set in the world of Jigoku Shoujo.

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5. Dirty Streets Chapter Five

            Kajal awoke early the next morning, stiff and wondering what to do next. Somehow, he would have to get some food and water for himself and Selma. Water especially. They could die of thirst even today. Kajal wasn’t sure how they would live now. They couldn’t go home as long as Hakim was out there.

            There was another option. Kajal took out the black straw doll and looked at it. He could just make Hakim disappear. They would be able to go home. But then Kajal would be damned too.

            “Weren’t you going to use that doll to curse Hakim?” came a thin voice behind him, and Kajal looked around, realizing Selma had woken up.

            He nodded.

            “Why didn’t you?” she asked.

            “It’s not real,” he lied, “But I did scare him with it, didn’t I? Thought I could keep it in case I might need to use it again.”

            “Where did you get it?”

            “Found it on the street.” Kajal avoided her eyes.

            “Can I play with it?”

            “No!” Kajal exclaimed, putting it back in his pocket, “If I have to use it again, I…I’ll need to have it with me,” he explained hurriedly.

            Selma simply sighed and accepted it. She was used to not getting what she wanted.

            They headed out into the streets of Kakdwip, Kajal’s heart sinking as they went. It wasn’t as if he could find any work at all here, much less today, when he urgently needed to feed Selma.

            He tried begging. “Please, sir, my sister and I are starving…Ma’am, if we could just have a few rupees or a bit of rice...”

            After a while, he decided begging any more would be pointless. They were, after all, Dalits, even here. And aside from that, everyone else here also looked too poor to spare some food or even a bit of money.

            He would have to resort to stealing again.

            With a little whimper, Selma suddenly collapsed beside him. Kajal was immediately kneeling next to her.

            “Selma! Selma, what’s wrong?”

            “It hurts, Bhaiya,” Selma whispered, clutching at her lungs.

            Kajal’s lungs were aching too, growing worse with every passing moment. They needed water.

            “It’s okay. We’ll go take a drink from the ocean, all right? Can you make it that far?” Going to steal some fruit was out of the question right now: he couldn’t leave Selma alone when she was this helpless.

            Selma shook her head.

            “Fine, I’ll carry you,” Kajal said. With trembling arms, he lifted Selma onto his back and started off toward the beach. Kakdwip was a coastal village, so it wouldn’t be too far.

            As they drew closer to the shore, Kajal could hear the sound of rushing, splashing water, and it made him thirstier than ever. They emerged from the village onto a muddy beach, and the feeling of wetness beneath his feet spurred Kajal on. There were boats floating around the dock, and out in the brown, dusty mist, Kajal could see a junk with a single sail floating solemnly through the water.

            Water! When they were within a foot of the waterline, Selma jumped down and ran to it, trying to catch some water from the big waves in her mouth. Kajal did the same.

            They both jumped back, coughing and spluttering, trying to spit out as much of the ocean water as they could. No one had told Kajal it would be salty.

            There came a laugh from behind them. “You really are uneducated, aren’t you?”

            Kajal whirled around to find Hakim standing there. How had he found them? Had he really been so close behind that he had heard the truck driver say they were bound for Kakdwip?

            “It’s all right,” Hakim went on, “Your sister doesn’t need to be educated to do the kind of work I have for her. I’ll train her myself.”

            These words made Kajal hate him all the more. Grabbing Selma’s hand, he turned and fled with her along the beach.

            Hakim pursued them, gaining on them quickly. They were too weak to outrun him this time, and there were no buildings to dodge around and hide in. Nearby, Kajal could see a forest, full of green undergrowth and twisting vines.

            If we could just get in there, Kajal thought, Come on…come on…

            Suddenly, Selma tripped and fell, her hand slipping out of his. She did not get up again or move. “Selma!” Kajal screamed. There wasn’t time to pick her up and run. In fact, he didn’t think he had the strength to lift her anymore. He crouched in front of her like a mother animal protecting its young.

            Hakim laughed again, but then his face twisted into a snarl. “Too weak to escape this time?” he taunted, “I’ll make you suffer for all the trouble you’ve caused me, boy. Your sister will suffer too. See? You’ve only made it worse for her—worse for everyone! Your brother won’t be getting any medicine either.”

            There wasn’t anything left to do. Kajal took the black straw doll out of his pocket. Trembling with hatred and fear, he pinched the end of the red string.

            “You really think that will work on me again” Hakim laughed, “That thing is a joke! You’ll never—”

            Kajal pulled the string. As it came loose and dropped to the ground, a powerful wind tore the doll from Kajal’s hand. The doll was whipped up high into the air, where it vanished, and a deep voice came from all around: “I hear and grant this revenge.”

            Hakim was gone.

            Too weak to do anything more, Kajal lay down in the mud beside his sister. He could see a black mark in the top center of his chest: a small circle with a flame in the center. His eyes closed. This is it, then, he thought, I’m going to die now and go to Hell.

            He wondered vaguely whether he had done the right thing. Selma would die now too, but at least she wouldn’t live the life of a whore in the human trafficking industry.

            Slowly, unable to feel anything anymore, Kajal let himself slip away.

 

 

 

 

            In the place where the sun was always setting, Enma Ai sat in the clear pond, her black hair and white bathing robes floating up around her. There was a deep red ladybug struggling to swim in the water in front of her. Moving her white hand underneath it, she silently lifted it out of the water, watching it intently.

            As the red ladybug crawled toward her fingertip, Enma Ai turned and let it get off on a blade of grass. It paused, lifting up its shell to let its black wings dry. Enma Ai continued to watch it.

            “Ai,” called the frail voice from inside the house, “I’ve prepared your nagajuban.”

            Enma Ai stood up, the water dripping off her. “Yes, Grandma,” she responded softly. She turned to go inside.

            As the figure behind the sliding door turned and turned the spinning wheel, Enma Ai put on her white, ritual nagajuban. Then she tied a kimono around it: a pitch black kimono with a pattern of large, round, orange and red flowers. Finally, standing beside the door, Enma Ai placed her thin hand behind her hair, then abruptly brought it straight out so that her long hair fell behind her back. A bracelet of round, red beads was around her wrist, and two bells hung from it. She looked up.

            Jigoku Shoujo was ready.

            Over the mountains, a roaring carriage streaked across the red sky. The carriage had no horses: it was driven by a huge, flaming wheel on its left side. There was a terrifying face in the center of the fiery wheel. It looked like Wanyuudo, but its eyes were wide open and its teeth bared in a frightful grimace.

            Enma Ai rode inside the carriage, lines of orange light falling across her face. Her red eyes were slightly downcast, and it seemed she grieved for what she was about to do.

 

 

 

 

            Hakim arrived at the door of his brothel, in a dirty back corner of Calcutta. There were two men standing by the door: an old man with a wide face and a young man with straight, black hair that covered one eye. Rich customers from Japan, Hakim presumed.

            As he drew nearer, Hakim noticed that the two men did not look pleased. He stopped to talk to them. “What’s wrong?” he asked, “Haven’t you gone in yet? I’m sure I can find a suitable lady for you.”

            “Your women are no good,” said the old man, Wanyuudo.

            “All they do is cry,” Ichimoku Ren added.

            Furiously, Hakim stormed into the brothel. All his prostitutes were sitting around, weeping helplessly and smearing their makeup. “Stop this!” he ordered, “How dare you do this, you bitches! You’ll be punished!”

            The women did not respond, but only sobbed all the more heartbrokenly. Seizing one of the women by her shoulder, he forced her to turn towards him. She took her pale hands from her face and looked up at him.

            With a scream, Hakim started back. It was her! He thought that had only been a nightmare! One half of the woman’s face was flawlessly beautiful and white, and the other half looked like a rotting skull. Hone-Onna stood up and advanced toward him.

            Gasping with terror, Hakim fled deeper into the brothel. Coming to a bedroom, he flung open the door and froze, amazed at what he saw. It was Selma! She was sitting on the red-curtained bed, staring at him with her wide, dark eyes.

            Hakim grinned nastily. “So you finally came to your senses, did you?” he said, forgetting about the skull-faced woman. He could tell from experience that this girl would make a huge profit: it was why he had bothered chasing after her, even when her stupid brother had interfered. Going in, Hakim sat on the bed and pulled her up onto his lap.

            Suddenly, he wasn’t holding a little girl anymore, but a baby, and then an unborn baby. The fetus wore the full makeup of a prostitute, and it reached up and touched his cheek with its webbed fingers, as if to kiss him.

            Screaming uncontrollably, Hakim flung the baby away. It bounced pitifully on the floor and was still. Just then, Hone-Onna came in. Her face was back to normal, but Hakim knew what it could become. In a blind panic, he scrambled backwards on the bed.

            “Disgusting,” Hone-Onna said spitefully.

            Wanyuudo and Ichimoku Ren came in after her. Ichimoku Ren folded his arms. “Those little girls have souls,” he said, “Or didn’t you even know that?”

            “Aren’t you ashamed? Hone-Onna demanded, but Wanyuudo stepped in front of her.

            “Do you repent of your sin?” he asked solemnly.

            Suddenly, Hakim’s fear changed to haughty anger. “What sin?” he returned with a sneer, “And who are you to judge me? Thousands of men have benefited from what I do—not only here, but all over the world through my porn sites! I give them what they want! I offer a good service! I don’t need to repent of a single thing!”

            “That’s what he said, Young Miss,” said Ichimoku Ren.

            The next instant, the bed was floating in darkness, and another small girl sat on Hakim’s lap: a girl with long, black hair who was wearing a black kimono with flowers.

            The girl turned up her pale face to look at him, and Hakim started screaming again. The lifeless, red eyes locked onto his own. Hakim tried to push her off, but he couldn’t move.

            “O pitiful shadow, bound in darkness,” Jigoku Shoujo began, and her soft voice pierced through his screaming, “Looking down on others and causing them pain…a soul drowned in sin and evil…” Her eyes widened slightly, and a tangible silence filled the air around them. “How would you like to taste death this time?”

            No longer on Hakim’s lap, she spread out the sleeve of her kimono. Shining flowers floated towards him, and he was engulfed in darkness.

            When Hakim opened his eyes, he was in a small boat which floated smoothly across the black waters. A cloudy, dark indigo sky stretched above him, and in it were four, glowing slits of lavender, pointed inward toward each other. Softly glowing, square paper lanterns floated with them, all going in the same direction, and Jigoku Shoujo steered the boat.

            Hakim scrambled up to a half-sitting position, panting with terror. “What is this? Where am I?”

            Enma Ai was silent, staring straight ahead, but not looking at him.

            “Well? Say something! What are you doing?” Hakim demanded.

            “I am ferrying you to Hell,” Enma Ai said.

            “How about giving me an answer that’s not shit?” Hakim spat, but he was shaking, “Hell is just a Christian myth!”

            “No…it’s real,” Enma Ai replied.

            “It can’t be!” Hakim cried, “None of this can be real! I don’t deserve this!”

            “Everyone deserves it,” Jigoku Shoujo said.

            Hakim lunged at her, but little girls’ hands suddenly reached out of the boat, pulling him back to the floor. With Hakim screaming and struggling, they drifted through the arch and disappeared into thick, dark gray fog.

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